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Philippine Navy modernization going at a good clip

With the arrival of its Hamilton-class cutter, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) and three of the five AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopters, and signing and bidding of major ship contracts, the modernization of the Philippine Navy (PN), the force mandated to protect the country's vast maritime domains, is going on a good clip.

Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said they are very excited with the way things are going for the PN which for decades has sadly lagged behind its other Southeast Asian counterparts.

But with the arrival of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz last Aug. 6, after a two-month voyage from the United States, and commissioning last Nov. 22 and delivery of the three AW-109s last Dec. 8, Fabic said that the maritime domain awareness capability of the PN was greatly boosted.

Contract for the naval helicopters were signed last Dec. 20, 2012.

The arrival of these assets also ensures that BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), the country's first Hamilton-class cutter, will no longer have to do maritime sovereignty patrols in the West Philippines on her own.

The ability of the PN to protect the country's vast waters will be greatly increased once the combat versions of the AW-109s, the last two of the five ordered for P1.33 billion for AgustaWestland, arrives in the third quarter of 2014.

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